Welcome to where the magic happens. Every project, class, system and process I have ever implemented started with a blog post RIGHT HERE. So dig in, there is gold in these electrons.
One of the biggest mistakes a sales person can make is holding on to a lost cause. I call it the “Lenny Syndrome.” We all remember Lenny from ‘Of Mice and Men’ and how he held, hugged and loved that puppy literally to death. Salespeople can do the same thing. A sale goes south, for whatever reason, and the next few weeks are WASTED grasping at the lifeless corpse it has become.
Following this process gets the closure you need to move on, as well as, discovering what you can do to improve yourself and your company’s selling efforts. This combination ALWAYS leads to NEW sales in the future if we apply what we have learned. The results are multiple positives from one negative situation.
You will find times, when a sale is lost; the prospect will give you almost total disclosure as to the reason. But when they don’t it is even more important to find out why. A number of reasons ALWAYS exist that will make the customer reticent about telling you, but there are other times it can be for the most undignified of situations:
I am not saying that these are always the circumstances, but you need to keep the “worse angels” perspective in mind. Besides it is more than likely a combination of things that led to the decision and not one lynch pin.
The key to getting an honest answer is to take your prospect off the hook. Remember you have spent a significant amount of time with these people and have probably developed some level of a relationship. They already feel awkward because of the circumstances surrounding the situation so you need to be overtly gracious about the result.
Keep in mind that this information will benefit you 5 times as much as it could ever benefit your prospect so be sure to use that type of ratio in your handling of the prospect.
1) Always place the blame on yourself, examples include:
2) The prospect almost always bends over backward to tell you it was not your fault so now go on the offensive.
3) This is a crucial point. They may offer one or two ideas, but if the necessary sincerity is conveyed, the prospect will teeter on opening up and telling you the whole truth.
4) At this point the prospect has either opened up to you or they haven’t. They have told you pretty much all you are going to hear from them at this “sitting” so now it is time to downshift into apology mode again.
5) The prospect will probably express relief because you did not push too hard and were so self-deprecating about the results so they are MORE likely to talk to you in the future.
Now all you have to do is follow-up as promised. The result will be one or a combination of these items:
1) They will eventually tell you the whole story
2) They will become a customer in the future
3) They won’t ever tell you what REALY happened
4) They will say you are wasting your time
Any or all of these results are, at minimum, acceptable. Obviously we would prefer 1 and 2 more than 3 or 4 but the real key is in the self discovery. When we know the reasons, we can move forward and improve ourselves and maybe land this or a similar prospect the next time. We want to close sales but we will NEVER close every sale. Continual development of our sales ability is an active ALL the time process and the only thing that can help us become the sales professionals we aspire to be.
That’s it for today and remember you can either make sales or you can make excuses but you can’t do both!
Don’t look now, but your market space is getting tougher by the day. Customers are looking for any possible edge in negotiating with vendors while the competition performs pricing acrobatics to grab business. The crowd around your prospects and current customers is growing and it is not going to stop anytime soon.
“Success is about standing out not fitting in,” so says Don Draper from TV’s MadMen. Most people in business are looking for an advantage. They want to stand apart from the competition, but they just don’t know how. Lower pricing is a temporary fix at best until somebody trumps you. Touting more features & benefits is just as fleeting. No, we have to find a new place, somewhere nobody else has looked or even has thought of looking.
ASK & LISTEN
One of the inherent weaknesses of salespeople is the fact that we like to hear ourselves talk. Worse, we like to talk about ourselves and our products. Get over it! ALL customers are tuned into their own radio station WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) everything else is just noise.You have 2 ears and 1 mouth, use in the proper proportion. Ask your customer questions about their business and then LISTEN!
Don’t be content to ask only about what features from your product/service they might be interested in or basic logistic questions that you can get answered at any time. Ask about their company goals, their personal goals, ask how the 2 intersect. Find out how you can make their work day easier. Your purpose here is to build a “snap shot” of what their future COULD look like. I promise you, the deeper level your question, the more you know about the customer, the easier the sale will be. “Felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere causus,” a quote by Georgics Virgil its translation: Happy is he who knows the cause of things.
DIVE INTO THEIR REVENUE STREAM
It’s simple, make yourself responsible for a portion of revenue the customer generates. At the end of the day it’s NEVER about a product or service it is about the impact made on the company’s ability to make money. Find out what makes their business tick then figure out how your product/service helps to keep it ticking. If you do not, all you are doing is providing a service or product that can be provided by ANYBODY ELSE, and many times cheaper. Once you become part of how a company grows and makes money you become an invaluable resource, essentially irreplaceable.
HEART AND SOUL
What TRULY motivates a prospect or customer lays deep inside. It is rarely as simple as a feature or benefit. Pricing is always going to matter but pricing can be mitigated when confronted with the achievement of something bigger. What we are tasked to do, as business people who sell, is to FIND the deeper purpose, the bigger achievement, the question is how?
The answer begins with you. Altruism aside, make the accomplishment of a customer’s goals your purpose as well. Customers can sniff out a “salesman” who is selling a product trying to hit quota and they have NO time for those people. But the business person who sells and has a solution to their problem WILL become part of the customer’s bigger success. If you come with that mindset you have the opportunity to achieve great things for your customer and yourself.
These 3 concepts are crucial to your success and by NO means simple. I will be exploring each of them individually in future blogs.
For now, I am out of here, and remember you can either make sales or you can make excuses but you can’t do both….